Chris Bosh might play in Game 5
MIAMI -- Heat All-Star Chris Bosh has been upgraded to a game-time decision for Tuesday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. All indications are that Bosh will play after missing three weeks and nine playoff games with a lower abdominal strain.
"He was able to go through a workout yesterday, he was able to go through shootaround today and we'll have to continue to evaluate," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "The last two days he's been able to do real basketball work."
Spoelstra later added that Bosh is "going to go through his warm up. If he does play he will not start and he will come in at some point in short bursts, that's all it will be."
Spoelstra also figures that since Bosh has not played since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the All-Star's role will be small, "that's all he'll have to be for us right now," Spoelstra said.
"He doesn't have to be Chris Bosh he was several weeks ago, we can build up to that," the coach added.
Whether he plays or not, Bosh will be dealing with a tragedy. A police report that became public Tuesday said a masseuse collapsed at his home Monday and later died at the hospital.
The woman initially appeared to be well but suddenly collapsed. The report says a friend of the victim told officials she had survived cancer about a year ago.
It was not clear if Bosh was at his home at the time.
The Heat sound optimistic about Bosh's recent workouts but are expecting him to be limited and rusty.
"He's looked great the last couple days that we've gotten to see him," LeBron James said. "He looks comfortable with what we've been able to do but I think we all know that a shootaround or a walk-through practice is totally different than game time."
Bosh averaged 14.7 points and 6.8 rebounds in six playoff games before suffering the injury on a dunk in Game 1 of the East semifinals against Indiana. The Heat have struggled without him, starting three different centers and sometimes using James at center.
Meanwhile, Celtics center Kevin Garnett has had an excellent series thus far going against Bosh's backups, averaging 20.5 points and 10.8 rebounds.
"It's going to help us a lot," James said. "He can spread the floor. Another big that can spread the floor. He rebounds as well. He can cover a lot of ground defensively. It'll be great to have him back but you never know what type of rhythm he'll be in."
Without having to worry about defending Bosh, the Celtics have been able to change their defensive strategies and give more attention to Dwyane Wade, who regularly has drawn double teams in the series. Wade has referred to Garnett's role in the series as being a roaming "safety" as he has often ignored his man to help defend Wade and James.
"We have other guys that he doesn't feel are much of an offensive threat," Wade said. "That's been the biggest difference in this whole series. I've played against Boston a lot of times and they haven't been able to play the way they're playing me now."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers, when asked at Tuesday's shootaround how much Garnett's coverage would change if and when Bosh takes the floor, said, "Not at all."
"We're not going to change our defense," Rivers said. "We're going to play the same way."
Rivers indicated that Garnett will continue to roam like he has in the first four games.
"Listen, we are kind of stuck with who we are," he said. "We couldn't make a lot of changes even if we wanted to. It's not like we can do a lot of different things. We've made some tweaks here and there, but we like what were doing so we're ready for the next step."
Garnett expects his role to change slightly, but he agreed with Rivers' sentiment that they are who they are.
"Right now, I'm doing a lot to help," Garnett said Tuesday before Game 5. "Our schemes will change a bit, but we know what we're coming into. We have to prepare for that."
The Heat were 4-5 without Bosh in the regular season and are 5-4 in the playoffs without him. In the regular season, they were 42-15 when Bosh played and 6-1 with him in the postseason before his injury.
Garnett knows a little something about what Bosh is going through. During Boston's championship season in 2008, Garnett missed slightly over three weeks with an abdominal strain and returned in a February game to tally four points, four turnovers and eight rebounds in just 20 minutes. The Celtics lost that February game to Denver.
Garnett remembers what it felt like to test his core muscles in a actual game setting, but Garnett is keeping his secrets close to the vest, in case Bosh might be looking for tips. When asked whether he had any specific memories from that game, Garnett made a simple reply.
"I don't. No memories that I'd like to share."
Information from ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh and The Associated Press contributed to this report.